Congresswoman @RepRoybalAllard, Civil & Human Rights Leaders Call on Congress to #EndTheQuota on Immigration Detention Beds
Listen to and/or download the press briefing here:
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), civil and human rights leaders, and a mother who spent six months in a government detention center today called on Congress to eliminate the arbitrary and costly immigration detention bed quota that mandates keeping 34,000 immigrants in jail on any given day. The groups’ demand coincides with today’s meeting of the House Appropriations Committee with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who oversees the DHS budget, including funding for maintaining the detention bed quota.
In the absence of leadership from Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the mass detention and deportation of individuals who should be on a path to citizenship continues at a rapid rate. As Republican leadership in the House of Representatives continue to hold reform hostage, reform advocates have begun to pursue all available avenues to achieve individual elements of reform to the current broken system. The elimination of the detention bed quota is one of several efforts underway to reform the system that should be overhauled in comprehensive legislation.
via @LatinoAdvocacy1: Hunger Strikers Report Increased Retaliation, Including Threats of Forced Feeding
For Immediate Release
Available for interview: Sandy Restrepo, (206) 251 1627ALERT! Hunger strikers threatened with forced feeding! Please call/e-mail ICE today!* SUPPORTERS MAINTAIN PRESENCE: RALLY ANNOUNCED FOR TUESDAY AT 5 P.M.
As the hunger strike initiated last Friday by immigrants detained in the Northwest Detention Center enters its fourth day, attorney Sandy Restrepo reports strikers being threatened with forced feedings. Restrepo met with hunger strike leaders this morning, and described the conditions inside the center: “The guards are armed and dressed fully in black – essentially in riot gear. Immigrants on hunger strike are being pulled out for individual questioning by detention center officials, and threatened with forced feeding if they continue their protest. Asylum seekers are being threatened with denial of their cases.”
Even as they face increasing retaliation, hunger strikers remain determined. Through written communication, they have elaborated on their demands. Continuing to insist on an end to deportations, they also ask for release on bond, noting, “Without a bond we spend months, even 1 to 2 years locked up without knowing what’s going to happen to us and our families and without being able to economically support our families, causing them to fall deeper into poverty.”
Outside supporters have obtained a photograph of the latest communiqué, which ends with the statement, “We are doing this for our families.”
Supporters have announced a rally at the facility, to take place tomorrow at 5 p.m. Wives of some of the organizers of the hunger strike will be sharing their stories and will be available for interviews. New audio communications from hunger strikers will be broadcast and made available at the rally.
————————-*ALERT! Hunger strikers threatened with forced feeding! Please call/e-mail ICE today! Conditions are worsening against hunger strikers, and we need to put direct pressure on ICE. Please take two minutes to call and e-mail Daniel H. Ragsdale, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director TODAY to demand an immediate end to the retaliation against hunger strikers and begin an investigation of GEO Group’s treatment of detainees. Contact info: 202-732-5907, Daniel.H.Ragsdale@dhs.gov Here’s a sample script: “I am contacting you in support of the hunger strikers at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. I have heard disturbing reports of retaliation against the hunger strikers, including threats of forced feeding and of denial of asylum applications. I urge you to take immediate measures to end the retaliation against hunger strikers. I urge you to meet the striker’s demands and initiate an investigation into GEO Group’s mistreatment of detainees.”
The Women’s Refugee Commission has been working to ensure the rights and protection of vulnerable migrants for almost two decades. In 2006, we visited both of the family detention centers and talked with detained families, as well as former detainees. We found that some families with young children, most of them under the age of 12, had been detained for up to two years. Conditions at the Texas facility were particularly dire. Children as young as six years old were separated from their parents at night. Separation and threats of separation were used as disciplinary tools. Children received just one hour of schooling per day, and families had too little time to feed their children and themselves — children were frequently sick from the food and losing weight. Families received extremely limited indoor and outdoor recreation time and children did not have any soft toys.
In 2007, WRC, along with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, issued a report recommending systemic changes to the U.S. government’s treatment of families in immigration proceedings. The American Civil Liberties Union used the report as a basis for a lawsuit. WRC worked with ICE to improve conditions. In a significant victory, the Texas facility is no longer used for families, and the Pennsylvania center is used only as a last resort.
March 11th, 2014
#EndTheQuota National Call-in Day
President Barack Obama submitted his budget request for DHS and ICE to Congressional appropriators. Now, your Members of Congress need to hear from you. On Tuesday, March 11th, call your Senators and Representative and tell them Congress should eliminate the detention bed quota, which ensures funding to keep 34,000 immigrants locked up in ICE detention facilities on any given day. For more information go to: detentionwatchnetwork.org/EndTheQuota
What You Can Do to #EndTheQuota:Call your Senators and Representative this Tuesday, March 11th.
- Call 202-224-3121 for the Congressional Switchboard or
- Click here to find your Senators and their phone numbers
- Click here to find your Representative and their phone numbers
My name is _____ calling from [CITY, STATE]. I urge Congress member [NAME] to oppose the wasteful and inhumane immigration detention bed quota in any appropriations bill.
Background Information: The immigration detention bed quota requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to lock-up a minimum of 34,000 immigrants at any given time. This policy is unprecedented – no other law enforcement agency operates on a quota system.
With a guaranteed need for detention “beds”, the detention bed quota essentially forces the use of facilities that have poor track records in which innumerable human rights abuses and dozens of deaths have occurred. These facilities have issues ranging from no access to the outdoor space, maggot- and worm-infested food, and wholly inadequate medical and mental health care.
The cost to maintain this unmanageable system is excessive. In 2012, ICE detained an estimated 478,000 immigrants and the ICE’s current detention budget is just short of $2 billion. During a time of fiscal crisis, it is unacceptable to be spending billions in taxpayer dollars each year to needlessly detain immigrants to fill a quota.
The quota not only impacts the hundreds and thousands of immigrants that go through the detention system each year, but also the families and communities that that have been torn apart due to immigration detention.
For additional information and talking points please go to: detentionwatchnetwork.org/EndTheQuota
Members of Congress on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee will be debating the detention bed quota over the coming months.Schedule a meeting with your Senators and Representative End The Quota legislative toolkit. For more information on how to set-up a meeting with your member of Congress. Tell us how it went. We need your help in tracking which Members of Congress will help us end the quota! Please contact Madhu Grewal DWN’s Policy Counsel at email@example.com if you need support with scheduling a visit with your members of Congress. Keep up the pressure on social media! Twitter: Follow DWN on Twitter and retweet us! Find your Representative and Senators (and @houseappropsgop, @SenateApprops) on Twitter and urge them to #EndTheQuota. Sample Tweet (copy/paste and add your representative’s handle): .@RepHalRogers immigration detention bed quota is wasteful, inhumane & not used by other law enforcement! #EndTheQuota! Facebook: Like DWN on Facebook, opt-in for getting DWN’s notifications (“Get Notifications” on the pop-up under the Like button) and share our posts with your friends. Find Your Representative and Senators on Facebook and leave a message on their Facebook page, urging them to #EndTheQuota! Organize an End The Quota action or public education event in your community Please contact Catalina Nieto, DWN’s Field Director at firstname.lastname@example.org for support in planning an action or event.
3/5 in #NJ: Day-Long Series of Events on #AshWednesday including Pilgrimage from #EllisIsland to the Elizabeth Detention Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Clergy, Faith Leaders, Youth and Activists calling for the Dismantling of the Detention and Deportation Machine that Feeds the Prison Industrial Complex
New Jersey- On Wednesday March 5th, people from across New Jersey representing over a dozen faith based, community youth and immigrant rights groups, including members from Pax Christi NJ, First Friends, PICO-NJ, American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program, Wind of the Spirit and NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, will gather in four different cities, Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City and Newark to call for the dismantling of the detention and deportation machine that is feeding the prison industrial complex. For the fifth year in a row a group of pilgrims and well wishers will gather in Liberty State Park in Jersey City in front of the bridge to Ellis Island. The pilgrims will walk from Ellis Island, one of our nation’s most powerful symbols of hope and freedom, to a symbol of fear and imprisonment, the Elizabeth Detention Center. This series of events is called “Sowing Injustice, Reaping Sorrow”. Participants will be drawing attention to the interconnectedness of our county’s projection of military and economic power abroad with the flow of migrants and the way in which the detention and deportation machine feeds the prison industrial complex, tearing apart families in the process.
Who: Community & faith leaders, immigrant rights activists, community members, family of current detainees, former detainees and their families. Including: The Most Rev. Bernard Hebda, Presiding Co-Adjutor Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; The Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, DD, Regional Bishop for Hudson County of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; Yves Nibungco, chairperson Anakbayan USA; Ana Bonilla Martinez, organizer, Wind of the Spirit; Luke Nephew, spoken word artist and member The Peace Poets.
What: Vigils, rallies and protests including prayer, music and testimony to call attention to our country’s foreign policies that force people to migrate, to call for a halt to the detentions and deportations that are tearing apart families and to call for an end to prison profiteering.
Where & When:
- Jersey City- 10:00 AM, Vigil- Freedom Way, Liberty State Park;
- 11:30 Protest- Hudson County Administration Bldg. 595 Newark Ave.;
- 12:00 Vigil – St. Peter’s University, Panepinto Plaza 47 Glenwood Ave.
- Newark- 1:30 PM, Prayer Svc., St. James Church, 142 Jefferson St.;
- 2:00 PM Rally Sen Booker’s & Sen Menenez’s offices One Gateway Center;
- 3:00 PM Protest- Rodino Federal Bldg. 970 Broad St.;
- 4:00 PM Protest – Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
- 7:00 PM Public statement against for-profit incarceration at Board of Chosed Freeholders Meeting, Essex County Hall of Records, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Rm 506
- Elizabeth- 5:00 PM, Protest against Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers, Union County Courthouse, 2 Broad St.
- 6:00 PM, Prayer service./distribution of ashes – Elizabeth Detention Center, 625 Evans St.
- Camden- 12:05 PM- Mass, Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, 642 Market St.
- 1:00PM- Press Conf with family of released detainee, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 642 Market St.
The pilgrims will be received at the annual vigil at the Elizabeth Detention Center, a for-profit facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) where ICE first started incarcerating immigrants in NJ almost two decades ago. This will be the 18th year that the vigil will be held in Elizabeth.
Organizers are seeking to draw attention to the conflict between our economic and immigration policies. Gene Squeo a member of the board of Pax Christi NJ explained “The free flow of goods and capital is celebrated while the migration of people who are often victims of trade policies, is restricted and punished. This indifference to the suffering of people for the benefit of trade and commerce is a violation of the dignity of the human person.”
“Western society continues to worship the myth of prosperity and privilege assuming that those who are wealthy and powerful deserve the spoils of their oppression while blaming the poor for their poverty. We need to stop punishing people who, if given true sovereignty, would stay in their home countries,” said Yves Nibungo, chairperson of Anakbayan-USA, a Filipino progressive youth movement.
Organizers like Fr. Ronald Lemmert, a Catholic priest and the former Catholic chaplain at Sing-Sing Prison, say that the detention and deportation machine is an extension of the prison industrial complex both of which are causing tremendous suffering and tearing apart families. “Just like the harsh sentences attributed to the ‘war on drugs’ the criminalization of migration is allowing county governments and for-profit companies to generate revenue off of the suffering of human beings. For the same reason that the Obama administration is calling for a rollback of the harsh punishment under the drug laws, they should also be calling for a rollback of the harsh punishment of immigrants by eliminating the detention and halting the deportations of families.”
The event is organized by Pax Chrisit NJ and co-sponsored by: First Friends; PICO-NJ; NJ Communities United; Action 21; American Friends Service Committee – Immigrant Rights Program, Newark; Casa Esperanza; Wind of the Spirit; Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth; St. Joseph’s Social Service Center; Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless; Anakbayan-USA; St. Peter’s University Social Justice Program; Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast; Middlesex County Coalition of Immigrant Rights; Peruvian American Coalition; Justice for Immigrants Task Force-Archdiocese of Newark, and the Shrine of St. Joseph.
About Pax Christi
Pax Christi USA is a national Catholic organization, representing the Catholic peace with justice movement in the United States. Pax Christi reaches over a half-million Catholics directly every year with over 400 local groups throughout the United States, over 100 bishop members, 700 parish sponsors, 600 religious communities, and 50 college and high school chapters.
Obama Administration Includes Arbitrary Number of Detention Beds in Fiscal Year 2015 Budget #endthequota
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Obama Administration Includes Arbitrary Number of Detention Beds in Fiscal Year 2015 Budget
Detention Watch Network Urges Congress to End the Quota and Reduce Wasteful Spending on the Incarceration of Immigrants
Washington, D.C. – Today the Obama Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security. The proposal includes $ 1.8 billion for detention and maintains funding for 30,539 beds. In response to release of the FY 2015 budget proposal, Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director of Detention Watch Network (DWN) states:
“DWN is disappointed to learn that the Obama administration continues to prioritize the mass detention and deportation of immigrants. The request to fund an arbitrary and predetermined number of detention beds underscores the use of a quota and is an obstacle toward true reform of a detention system that is rife with abuse. While the Administration reduced the number of detention beds from its FY 2014 budget request, it is disappointing that President Obama has continued to fulfill the detention bed quota. DWN calls upon Congress to eliminate the detention bed quota for FY 2015.
DWN notes that the President’s budget also requests $94.1 million in funding for Alternatives to Detention. However, it is currently unclear whether the expanded funding for Alternatives to Detention would reduce the detention population, which should be a priority.”
The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.
Register today for DWN’s 10th National Member Conference, May 8-10, 2014 in Arlington, VA.
For more information and to register, go to: detentionwatchnetwork.org/conference2014
Regístrese hoy a la 10a conferencia nacional de DWN (La Red en contra de la detención), del 8 al 10 de mayo del 2014 en Arlington, VA. Para obtener más información y para registrarse valla a: detentionwatchnetwork.org/Conferencia2014
About the Conference
The conference will be held at George Mason University, Arlington Campus on May 8 -10, 2014. The conference aims to engage new and current members on the collective priorities of the Network, share and enhance members’ expertise and leadership, and enlist member commitment as we move toward our new vision of A World without Detention. Discussions will include topics such as the #EndTheQuota Campaign, cross-pollination with the criminal “injustice” system, and international trends, among others.
Please note that this conference is intended for current members of the Detention Watch Network. If you or your organization are not a member but are interested in joining DWN and attending the conference, please contact Carly Perez, Membership and Program Coordinator at email@example.com.
Acerca de la Conferencia
La conferencia se llevará a cabo en la Universidad George Mason en el Campus de Arlington, VA del 8 al 10 de mayo del 2014. La conferencia tiene como objetivo involucrar a los/las miembros en las prioridades colectivas de la red, compartir y mejorar la experiencia y el liderazgo de los/las miembros, y fortalecer el compromiso de los/las miembros hacia nuestra nueva visión de Un Mundo Sin Detención. Las discusiones incluirán temas tales como la Campaña #AcabemosConLaCuota, la colaboración con el sistema de “injusticia” criminal, y las tendencias internacionales, entre otros.
Tenga en cuenta que esta conferencia es para los/las miembros actuales de la Red en Contra de laDetención. Si usted o su organización no es un/a miembro, pero está interesado/a en formar parte de DWN y asistir a la conferencia, por favor póngase en contacto con Carly Pérez, Coordinadora de Membresía y de Programas firstname.lastname@example.org.
via Puente Movement:
Sign to support the hunger strikers at bit.ly/hunger-strike-to-stop-deportations
Sometimes tactics and strategies are planned far in advanced, developed and premeditated, other times it comes from a place that cannot be designed. In this case it comes from a mother’s will and community desperation, an expression of suffering and willingness to do anything to keep a family together.
Most undocumented families in the United States have already lived through the risks of getting here and the dangers of the work we do. We’ve lived through days of unplanned hunger and now accept it willingly.
Starting on Monday February 17th on Presidents Day members our communities of us will have our last meal and start a hunger strike.
This hunger strike doesn’t begin with the blessing of someone famous or anyone of any more importance then the rest of us, but it comes from the authenticity of the pain that exists in our communities, mothers, fathers, children, nieces, nephews, grandparents, friends, partners and allies who join in exposing the devastation of this country’s deportation policies.
We’ve watched the debate in public and suffered in private. We have gone to bed with our arms empty, aching for our loved ones, and now it is time to make that suffering known to the world. Anselma’s son, Elder, has been in immigrant detention for two years and is at the brink of deportation. [one more sentence example].
The purpose of this Hunger Strike is to demand the release and halt the unnecessary deportation of our loved ones. We also wish to expose the most important piece missing from this debate, the human cost caused by the extraction of members from our community.
It will be a joint effort from families on the outside and detainees on the inside, detainees who not only risk their health by not eating but the punishment they will receive by guards while on Hunger Strike.
We have no one but ourselves to look too, this immigration debate continues to be a political game in which both parties are content with the status quo that they take to the polls for elections, cements a permanent underclass and creates a constant flow of profits.
Politicians may tell us to be patient. Advocates may say that our tactics threaten the debate. But if there is not room for us, mothers who miss our sons, at the center of this conversation, than we hope our empty stomachs change that conversation.
We may not have formal education but we have learned that change happens when we face power and draw a line in this moral dilemma. We have spent years appealing to politician’s hearts and minds and still they are closed. If they have not opened on their own, we will make them open. Change comes when the immorality of a policy is exposed and it no longer is politically acceptable to oppress a group of people.
As long as we keep our suffering to our kitchen tables and half empty beds, they will keep their policies the way they are. Our sons’ imprisonment hasn’t been enough to get them to act. We hope our hunger strike will. If not, what happens to us will be on their hands.
January 30, 2014, New York – Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking immediate release of documents that the United States government has refused to provide regarding the detention bed quota, which ICE has interpreted to require detaining 34,000 non-citizens per day. Advocates say this lockup quota which mandates payments to private prison corporations that manage civil immigration facilities as well as local and state jails, is unprecedented in law enforcement practice and is inextricably linked to the Obama administration’s record-breaking deportations, which are quickly approaching 2 million.
The federal lawsuit, Detention Watch Network et al. v. ICE et al., was filed in the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which have failed to disclose information pursuant to the FOIA. The initial FOIA requests were filed in the fall of 2013 in anticipation of the upcoming Congressional debate on appropriations. Despite growing public concern, Congress has already renewed the detention bed quota for Fiscal Year 2014; the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 is expected to be released on March 4, 2014.
Said Detention Watch Network’s Interim Executive Director Silky Shah, “The lockup quota essentially forces the use of facilities with very poor track records in which innumerable human rights violations and dozens of deaths have occurred. As the debate over immigration continues, any true reform to the system will be impossible without an end to the quota.”
CCR Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz said, “The public is entitled to understand how ICE and DHS implement the detention bed quota and their continuing insistence on mass detention of non-citizens. Evading their responsibilities under FOIA undermines the ability of community members to engage in debate and hold their representatives and the Obama administration accountable.”
Public debate on the detention bed quota and the Obama administration’s mass detention and deportation program has intensified in the past few weeks. Last week, former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau publicly called for an end to the detention bed quota, denouncing it as a “shameful injustice” that it has a “corrupting influence” on the entire immigration enforcement system.
To learn more about the case, visit: http://www.ccrjustice.org/bed-quota-foia
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.
The Detention Watch Network is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights of dignity of all persons. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org and follow @DetentionWatch.
Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Ted Deutch’s (D-FL) introduced of the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act, H.R. 3914, which expands and codifies the successful Legal Orientation Program for migrants in detention. It would also streamline inefficient and ineffective court processes. Representatives Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and Marc Veasey (D-TX) have also signed on as cosponsors of this bill. A copy of the bill is available here.
[List in formation: check back for updates]
- NIJC Welcomes Introduction of House Bill to Improve Access to Legal Counsel for Detained Immigrants
- LIRS Applaud Introduction of the Immigrant Detainee Legal Rights Act
Image of the Adelanto Detention Center waiting room via Instagram
In response to the Department of Homeland Security’s release of “Immigration Enforcement Actions: 2012,” [PDF] Silky Shah, Interim Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:
“It is alarming to see that despite supposed support for immigration reform, the Obama administration has reached an all-time high of 477,532 immigrants detained in FY 2012 from October 1 2011 to September 30, 2012. This confirms the President’s commitment to the mass incarceration of immigrants and blithe disregard for their human rights. It is an increase of 11 percent from the previous year and greatly contributes to the record deportation total under this administration. The blame cannot solely go to DHS and the Obama Administration. By supporting the arbitrary lock-up quota, Congress has mandated that 34,000 immigrants be detained daily. Meanwhile, detaining immigrants has become a billion-dollar industry for private prisons, which house 50 percent of those in custody. This flies counter to American values of due process and fairness.”
10a Conferencia Nacional de Miembros de DWN Thursday, May 8 at 9:00 a.m. to Saturday, May 10 at 12:30 p.m. in Arlington, Virginia El jueves 8 de mayo de las 9:00 a.m. hasta el sabado 10 de mayo a las 12:30 p.m. en Arlington, Virginia —————————
The conference is a space to continue building a strong DWN community. Members will have the opportunity to learn from each other about the numerous efforts across the country to challenge the unjust system of detention. There will be workshops, strategy sessions, and many opportunities to get to know each other as we work on a collaborative plan of action for our vision of A World Without Detention.
The conference will be held at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus in Virginia, just 15 minutes from DC and two blocks from the Virginia Square Metro stop on the orange line. Registration will open in February.We look forward to seeing you there! —————————-
La conferencia es un espacio para continuar construyendo una fuerte comunidad de DWN. Los/las miembros tendrán la oportunidad de aprender unos/as de otros/as acerca de los numerosos esfuerzos alrededor del país que están desafiando el sistema injusto de la detención. Habrá talleres, sesiones de estrategia, y muchas oportunidades de llegar a conocer unos/as a otros/as a medida que trabajamos en un plan de acción colaborativo para nuestra visión de un mundo sin detención.
La conferencia se llevará acabo en la Universidad de George Mason, Campus de Arlington en Virginia a solo 15 minutos de Washington DC y dos cuadras de la parada del Metro Virginia Square en la línea naranja.La inscripción estará abierta en Febrero. Esperamos verle allí
Thursday, January 16, 2014
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
2168 Rayburn House Office Building (Gold Room)
*light refreshments will be served*
Congress appropriates over $2 billion annually to operate an immigration detention system of jails and jail-like facilities that detains around 400,000 individuals each year. The purpose of this system is to maximize compliance with court hearings and final orders, not to punish immigrants and those seeking protection from violence and persecution abroad. The bi-partisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and experts on detention have identified recommendations for reform, with USCIRF issuing its most recent report last year. Despite some steps, the system continues to lag in reforms. As new leadership takes the helm at the Department of Homeland Security, and as Congress begins work on Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations, American leaders face key opportunities to renew this country’s commitment to protection and immigration detention reform.
- Galen Carey, Vice President, Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals
- Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director for Policy and Research, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
- Dora Schriro, Commissioner, New York City Department of Correction
- Julie Myers Wood, President, Compliance, Federal Practice and Software Solutions, Guidepost Solutions LLC; former Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First Refugee Protection Director
Please join Human Rights First and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for a discussion with leading experts about the current state of immigration detention and recommendations for more effective policies.
- How do asylum seekers seeking protection in the United States end up in detention?
- What are alternatives to costly and inhumane immigration detention practices, and how successful are they?
- How can best practices in law enforcement and the criminal justice systems inform the conversation on immigration detention reform?
- What is the 34,000 bed “quota”?
- And how can the United States design policies that are consistent with U.S. values and human rights commitments while securing compliance?
via Lindsay Jenkins, UNHCR-Washington: You are invited to attend
2014 New Year Meeting with NGOs*
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
8:30 to 11:30 AM
Organization of American States
Ruben Dario Room, 8th floor
As we begin a new year, UNHCR’s Regional Office for the USA and Caribbean invites you to join us as we gather with NGO partners for an overview of plans and priorities for 2014. We will have the opportunity to introduce new staff, discuss the structure and roles of the various Regional Office units, and briefly present our 2014 advocacy plans and priorities on both global and domestic issues. We will welcome initial feedback on these priorities and look forward to opportunities to enhance our joint advocacy throughout the year.
The agenda is as follows:
8:30-9:00 Coffee and Pastries
9:00-10:00 UNHCR Presentations
- Welcome and Overview of Regional Office Washington
- External Relations and Communications
- U.S. Protection (including detention, ATD and the credible and reasonable fear processes)
Please RSVP to Katie Ryan (Ryan@unhcr.org) by January 10. We hope you can join us!
* There will be a call-in option available for people who can’t attend in person. Contact Lindsay Jenkins email@example.com for more information.
Written by Julia Harumi Mass and Jenny Zhao, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
Audley Barrington Lyon, Jr. is currently in immigration detention while he fights deportation to Jamaica. A “U visa” is a beacon of hope for Mr. Lyon, who was an innocent bystander when he was seriously injured in shooting. A U visa—available to crime victims who cooperate with criminal investigations—would give him the opportunity to stay in the country with his U.S. citizen wife. Unfortunately, he doesn’t stand a fighting chance.
The phone system in immigration detention will not allow him to call the police to request the certification of his cooperation, a requirement he must fulfill in order to submit his visa application.
The facility where Mr. Lyon is held doesn’t allow detainees to purchase calling cards, and most government offices don’t accept collect calls. Mr. Lyon can’t afford a lawyer and is relying on his wife for help. But, calls from detention are so expensive that they are forced to coordinate by mail, which is impossibly slow. And, Mrs. Lyon cannot obtain the U visa certification for her husband because the police will only release the required information directly to crime victims or their legal representatives.
Though isolated, Mr. Lyon is not alone. He is standing up for a class of hundreds of detained immigrants who face similar restrictions on their telephone access, restrictions that violate their rights by making it next-to-impossible for them to consult with or hire a lawyer, or represent themselves in these life-changing deportation cases.
In all of northern California’s immigration detention facilities, detainees can’t reach an office with an automated greeting or even record a voicemail because calls can only be completed if someone answers the phone and accepts the call. For many immigrants, calls are allowed at inconsistent times, often outside of regular business hours. There is also no way for a detainee to receive calls or for lawyers to schedule calls with their clients. Telephones are in the common areas, eliminating any possibility of privacy when detainees make legal calls about sensitive topics. Calls are also far too expensive for many families to afford. In one of the facilities, an in-state, long-distance call costs $3.00 to connect plus $0.25 per minute—$6.75 for a 15-minute call. Calls cut off automatically after 15 minutes.
The ACLU of Northern California and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP have filed a class action lawsuit against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), because it’s time to uphold everyone’s dues process rights as they fight for the opportunity to live and work in the United States and to avoid permanent separation from their families.
via the National Immigrant Youth Alliance:
On November 21st, Santiago Garcia, A#200-203-126, presented himself to ICE officers, with the purpose of being detained and sent to the El Paso Detention Center.
It had come to the National Immigrant Youth Alliance’s attention that a great number of immigrants were being held within this facility, despite clearly being eligible for parole.
Two weeks since Santiago’s infiltration, the stories of men and women, detained confirm our suspicions. Within the El Paso Detention Center we have uncovered a pattern and practice of abuses; hundreds of immigrants are refused parole by ICE officers, despite meeting all of the criteria set for their release. Many of these immigrants are then deported, after months of incarceration.
These stories range from a Nigerian woman who suffered a miscarriage, inside, to that of families, a mother, father and kids, all detained inside. All of them with one thing in common, they’ve established fear of their home countries and been told by Asylum officers they’ll be allowed to fight their cases. Only problem is ICE won’t release them.
Over 12,000 people have already signed a petition calling for a review of the entire facility; we ask that you add your name too: http://bit.ly/epcreview
Families for Freedom demands ICE release Ivorian citizen Gabin Tonfack;
Cameroonian Embassy urged to explain document that almost caused detainee’s mistaken deportation
Families for Freedom (FFF) together with the Tonfack family, calls on Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release 26-year-old Gabin Tonfack, a citizen of the Ivory Coast detained at the York County Prison, PA since January 2013. In addition, we urge the Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Washington D.C. to clarify the contents of a disputed travel document used by ICE to attempt to put Mr. Tonfack on a plane to Cameroon on two separate occasions. Further, we call on the U.S. Department of State to investigate and report on the process in which ICE was able to acquire a Cameroonian travel document for a citizen of the Ivory Coast.
ICE is responsible for working with the consulates and embassies in securing valid travel documents for deportable foreign nationals. “We are troubled about the process in which ICE obtained a questionable Cameroonian travel document for a citizen of the Ivory Coast,” said Abraham Paulos, executive director of Families for Freedom.”We are also concerned that if this could happen to Gabin, perhaps ICE has already deported people with illegitimate travel documents.”
On April 16th 2013, an immigration judge at York Immigration Court granted Mr. Tonfack, Convention Against Torture, a persecution-based relief, and withheld his removal to the Ivory Coast. The government did not appeal that ruling, but Mr. Tonfack was not released from detention as is customary in similar cases. Instead, Mr. Tonfack says he was taken to Dulles International Airport by ICE officers on two separate occasions (May 29th and June 18thof 2013) and was nearly deported to Cameroon. ICE deportation officers claimed that he was a citizen of Cameroon; however Mr. Tonfack insists he has never been to the country.There are glaring inconsistencies between the Cameroonian travel document that ICE used in their attempt to deport Mr. Tonfack and records from the Ivory Coast government. For example, certified documents including a birth certificate, show that Mr. Tonfack was born in 1987 in Ivory Coast also listed as his country of citizenship. The travel document signed by the Honorable Dr. Charles R. Greene at the Honorary Consulate in Houston, alleges Mr. Tonfack was born in 1987, in Cameroon and is a Cameroonian citizen. After FFF alerted ICE about the inconsistencies, Mr. Tonfack received another almost identical travel document bearing the signature of Dr. Greene except this time claiming he was born in 2013. The Cameroonian Embassy never interviewed Mr. Tonfack, which is standard protocol for verification of citizenship prior to issuing travel documents. The court was made aware of the travel documents and the Immigration judge sent a letter to the Department of State requesting assistance in the matter. Families for Freedom and the Tonfack family have reached out to Dr. Greene in Houston and the Cameroonian Embassy in Washington D.C. on multiple occasions over several months to establish an explanation on the manner, process, content and legitimacy of the travel documents in ICE’s possession. The D.C. embassy has only acknowledged receipt of FFF’s inquiry. To date we have not received an official response from Dr. Greene or the D.C. embassy refuting nor confirming the legitimacy of the travel document. After our frustration with the silence of the Cameroonian embassy in Washington D.C, we contacted the Embassy of Cameroon in the Ivory Coast. That embassy issued a letter, stating they have no records related to Mr. Tonfack. Mr. Tonfack and his family are still fighting his removal to Cameroon without a lawyer. He has an immigration court hearing at York County on Monday December 16, 2013.
Families for Freedom and the Tonfack family demand:
- The immediate release of Mr. Tonfack so that he and his family are able to effectively address the travel documents obtained by ICE.
- A full account and clarification by the Embassy of Cameroon in Washington, D.C., regarding the process and legitimacy of the travel documents acquired by ICE.
- An investigation by the US Department of State around the manner and process in which ICE officials were able to obtain travel documents.
via Michael Tan of the ACLU, reposted from their blog
Everyone knows that our immigration system is broken. But one of its worst features remains shrouded in secrecy: Our massive immigration lock-up system.
On any given day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cages approximately 34,000 men, women, and children in jails across the country as it pursues their deportation, at a cost to taxpayers of two billion dollars a year. Scandalously, ICE often has no good reason to incarcerate these people at all. In far too many cases, immigrants are incarcerated even though they pose no danger to anyone, and don’t need to be detained to make sure they show up for court. And many of these immigrants—thousands of whom are long-term green card holders—are not actually deportable, as the government claims, but will ultimately win the right to stay in the country.
Perversely, recent data shows that immigrants who go on to win their cases and earn the right to stay here under our laws are especially vulnerable to languishing for months or even years in immigration jail. The Transactional Records Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan research center at Syracuse University, analyzed data on immigrants who were released from ICE custody or deported during the last two months of 2012. TRAC found that people released because ICE or an immigration judge eventually found that they were legally entitled to stay in the country had the longest average detention time: 131 days. Moreover, of those who won their cases, 20 percent were detained for six months or more, and the average detention stay for this group was 334 days. In contrast, individuals who were deported spent an average of 27 days in detention.
These nationwide findings are consistent with an expert report prepared by TRAC’s co-director, Dr. Susan Long, in Rodriguez v. Robbins, the ACLU’s class action lawsuit challenging the long-term detention of immigrants in the Los Angeles area without meaningful bond hearings. Dr. Long’s study found that the average length of detention for individuals held six months or longer and who applied for relief from deportation was 421 days.
The data shows just how badly our immigration jails need reform. We should not be wasting taxpayer dollars on incarcerating people for months or years when they pose no threat to anyone and ultimately will be found to have a right to stay in our country. Just like in the criminal justice system, these individuals and countless others can be safely released on bond and conditions of supervision, without the massive costs to taxpayers and devastating harm to families and communities that are the hallmarks of our immigration prison system.